Microsoft’s flagship product Windows 8 is a huge step ahead from its predecessor, primarily due to its shift of focus from a traditional keyboard and mouse based input environment to a touch based ecosystem. With every version of Windows Microsoft has always improved the security features of the OS, and for the new Windows 8 it’s the same. In fact it is said to be the most secure Windows ever. Being the most widely used platform by hundreds of millions of computers has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. While the upside offers a lot of benefits for the company, on the downside the popularity means the attraction of zombies trying to exploit the system, Malware authors, hackers and other manipulators. Therefore the Windows should pack state of the art security features to protect its millions of customers, and seemingly it does. The following is a short discussion about the new security features introduced with Windows 8.Windows 8 Security Features

Secure Boot

Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) replaces the traditional Basic Input Output System (BIOS) addressing several major issues, enabling booting from high capacity disks (2.2 Terabytes has been upgraded to 9.4 Zebibytes) and providing CPU independent drivers etc. The trouble with the BIOS was that, it allowed malicious programs like rootkits to modify or replace the bootloader stealthily allowing the malicious program to boot. With windows 8, Microsoft utilizes a system called Secure Boot, which allows only the programs with trusted digital certificates to boot properly. In case your bootloader has been compromised by a malicious software, UEFI blocks the bootloader from launching, protecting your PC and data. Secure Boot is not essentially a Windows 8 feature, the feature is merely being utilized by Microsoft to make sure the system environment is safe and genuine, before loading the Operating system.

Secure Boot feature can be manually disabled, or new digital certificates can be added, existing certificates can be replaced if you need to run OS s other than Windows. However it should be noted that the manual control over secure boot is possible only with x86 Windows 8 versions, and not with the ARM powered Window RT versions.

Windows 8 Defender

Windows 8 Defender has been significantly improved over its predecessor, adding anti-virus capabilities along with the previous anti-spyware capabilities. Defender, powered by the Microsoft Malware Protection Centre would keep your data safe from being compromised by viruses, root kits and worms etc, Unlike the defender found on Windows 7, the new version would even support third party browsers apart from the built in Internet explorer , in detecting real time threats and protecting your computer.

The defender runs really fast, without slowing down your system, and consumes less power. Once you’ve started the OS, the defender runs in the background, however aiming not to obstruct your user experience, it makes its presence felt if and only if there are security vulnerabilities in your system. The interface is simple and straight forward, providing you with the current status of your system, options to scan the system and to update the virus and malware definitions etc. The defender is not necessarily a direct substitute for the free versions of popular commercial products however it does an amazing job at keeping your PC safe. Windows 8 Defender should be disabled if you want to install a third party commercial antivirus product, however it can not be uninstalled from the system.

Early Launch Anti-Malware

Early Launch Anti-Malware has been introduced to address rootkit attacks launched manipulating the bootloader. Unlike run-time attacks these are typically harder to detect, since these malware tend to disable the functionality of any antivirus software available in the system. ELAM driver launches before other boot drivers and scans for malware and restricts the initialization of suspicious actions. This classifies drivers as good, bad, bad but required to boot and unknown. Typically ‘bad’ drivers or the ones that are infected with malware are not initialized. However the ELAM process can be configured manually using the ‘Group Policy Editor’ and you can select which types of drivers should be loaded. To reap the maximum benefits out of ELAM feature your commercial anti-virus software should possess an ELAM start driver.

Smart Screen

Smart Screen feature, burrowed from the Internet Explorer has been introduced to Windows 8.This acts as a filter for malware and phishing attacks, while you are browsing the web, this time with any browser of your choice unlike being confined only to the Internet Explorer with previous Windows versions. Smart Screen scans the web pages you load, for suspicious behaviors, and if it finds them users are notified through a message, and users can even provide feedback. Sites known to contain malware and other insecure content are automatically blocked by the Smart Screen and a warning message is displayed. Downloads too are monitored for possible suspicious files. With Windows 8 this will essentially scan the apps users download and ensure they are not harmful to your PC. Numerous speculations surfaced suggesting that the Smart Screen breaches the user’s privacy due to its monitoring process of which apps are downloaded and installed by each user; however Microsoft has confirmed that they are not using the feature as an undercover operative.

Picture Passwords

Opposed to traditional character passwords, Windows 8 offers a new feature called Picture Passwords, which enables the users to create a password using a combination of lines, circles and yes, taps (since Windows 8 has been designed specially for touch screens) . This is a cool feature, considering the fact that due to multiple attacks on passwords, strong passwords are required to contain mixture of characters, uppers case, lowercase, numbers, and symbols and be about 20 characters, which is a pain to memorize and type every time you log in. With the Picture Passwords feature you can select your favorite picture and draw and tap on its unique places to define your password. The exact parts of the image, exact shapes drawn (lines, circles etc), the starting points and end points and the original order of doing them should all be known in order to breach through this, therefore this novel feature essentially provides a more secure and more user friendly way of creating and using passwords. This feature is of course optional, and if you don’t like it the regular text passwords are available inside the OS as always.

Author Bio: D. Blackthorn is an online security expert from Drm Removal software team. He’s a computer technology enthusiast and expert in DDoS mitigation.